Over my 20-plus years in the industry, I have seen considerable change when it comes to finding clothing for plus-size teens. Early in my career, I worked with a mother from western North Carolina who was desperate to find clothing options for her 14-year-old daughter. She needed plus-size clothing, and there seemed to be absolutely nothing available of good quality and style for teens at that time. Her mother had become discouraged that her daughter wore only sweatpants and T-shirts.
As the mother of a daughter myself, I understood the challenges this mother faced. I was also fully aware of the daughter’s discomfort with her body and her mother’s insistence on having me shop with her. At my initial meeting with her, I quickly understood why she dressed as she did. She was hiding her shape in her ill-fitting, oversized sweatshirt, sweatpants and a baseball cap. Her sadness was apparent, but the challenge was finding clothing that was cute and age appropriate.
Fast-forward to today, where fashionable clothes, retail stores and style bloggers are on board, embracing the plus-size teen and offering unprecedented options. The industry has jumped on the bandwagon with the general movement in our society being toward greater acceptance of people of all sizes. Whether for altruistic or purely business reasons, the industry operates with the knowledge that fifty years ago, the average American woman weighed 140 pounds, whereas today’s average American woman weighs 166 pounds. Smart manufacturers are responding with offerings to meet the demand for great style in larger sizes.
Societal attitudes will continue to evolve to embrace the size change in teens and adults, and that’s a wonderful development. In the meantime, here are a few rules of thumb when shopping for your teen regardless of size:
- Trends aren’t always the best option for all body types, so choose wisely or improvise.
- If your teen wants to wear fashion forward clothing (what I often refer to as disposable clothing), don’t invest in a whole wardrobe of trend. Begin with a foundation of flattering basics with a classic cut and fabric, and have your daughter fill in with a few trendy tops, pants or accessories to liven up her look.
- Avoid jackets and coats that are trendy, as they are generally a larger investment that will not carry her over multiple seasons.
- Trendy accessories can update an outfit instantly and cost very little, making them a smart investment.
- Encourage your teen to wear clothes that fit and flatter, and steer her away from shapeless, baggy items. Being a plus size shouldn’t mean always hiding your shape, so avoid the oversized sweaters, hoodies and what I call the MC Hammer pant.
Check out Pinterest, Teen Vogue and the various plus-size fashion bloggers, as they can be a great resource. www.pinterest.com/explore/plus-size-teen/
And here are a few of my favorite online stores to shop for plus-size teens:
As for Triangle destinations, be sure to visit Belk at Crabtree Valley Mall, Macy’s, JC Penney, Forever 21, Deb Shops, Kohl’s and H&M. Happy shopping!
From my closet to yours,